“Visionaries of a new holistic and ecological paradigm are themselves deemed to be neurotic. They have moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience. Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you have got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it or you can’t. You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations. The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience – that is the hero’s deed.”
Joseph Campbell, ‘The Power of Myth’
“A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems – you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself – and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.
“When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they – those in power – cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell – you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who depended on those who exploit you, the you who believed that those who exploit you will somehow stop on their own, the you who believed in the mythologies propagated by those who exploit you in order to facilitate that exploitation. The socially constructed you died. The civilized you died. The manufactured, fabricated, stamped, molded you died. The victim died.
“And who is left when that you dies? You are left. Animal you. Naked you. Vulnerable (and invulnerable) you. Mortal you. Survivor you. The you who thinks not what the culture taught you to think but what you think. The you who feels not what the culture taught you to feel but what you feel. The you who is not who the culture taught you to be but who you are. The you who can say yes, the you who can say no. The you who is a part of the land where you live. The you who will fight (or not) to defend your family. The you who will fight (or not) to defend those you love. The you who will fight (or not) to defend the land upon which your life and the lives of those you love depends. The you whose morality is not based on what you have been taught by the culture that is killing the planet, killing you, but on your own animal feelings of love and connection to your family, your friends, your landbase – not to your family as self-identified civilized beings but as animals who require a landbase, animals who are being killed by chemicals, animals who have been formed and deformed to fit the needs of the culture.”
This dovetails very nicely with the principles underlying the last entry here (emphasising a relativistic philosophical perspective being underlined by the current proving). Once again it’s about finding each individual’s own inategenius, a word with connotations so rarified and exceptional that we’ve now come to disassociate the majority of humanity from anything to do with it. Yet its origins reveal a different sense.The English word derives from the Latingenius ”guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent,” or better “procreative divinity, inborn tutelary spirit, innate quality”, from root of gignere ”beget, produce”, from the Proto-Indo-European base gen- ”produce”. Meaning “person of natural intelligence or talent” first recorded 1649 (Online Etymological Dictionary).
So in its original meaning, “genius” is basically an expression of the natural unconditioned essential self which is how the 19th century German homeopath Baron Clemens von Bönninghausen used the term when referring to the fundamental characteristic nature of a substance; the genius of a remedy.
“A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university … This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.”
R D Laing, ‘The Politics of Experience’, 1970